Friday, 10 December 2010

Shiki - Episode 19

After so many episodes which brought us an increasing sense of hopelessness as the show's titular "tribe" took over the village, last week's episode of Shiki finally brought us the payload we'd been waiting for, a glorious, fist-pumping, shout out loud with excitement moment as the tables finally seemed to have been turned on the Risen thanks to the cunning of Doctor Ozaki.

Of course, it's Chizuru that bears the brunt of this change in fortune, and with her true nature revealed in the midst of the village's Kagura festival, this instalment begins with a brutal, uncomfortable yet entirely unexpected revolt against the "demon" in their midst as she's pelting with stones, attacked, and finally killed.  Suddenly, last week's feeling of triumph feels rather tainted as blood flows freely across the festival stage, and it seems that this is only the beginning as Ozaki reveals the entire extent of his knowledge of the Shiki and how to defeat them.

From here, everything is in place for a good old fashioned torch and pitchfork session of decimating the invaders, but of course Kanemasa's residents aren't going to let them have it all their own way.  While most of the Risen head for the hills, Tatsumi is naturally primed as the main line of defence for his employers, while Sunako is left in the care of Seishin, who seems as intriguingly accommodating to the idea of helping his new hosts as he does to the thought that he might die in the revolt about to take place.

Although you might expect watching the surviving villagers taking back their homes, lives and safety to be a thing of joy and celebration, this instalment of Shiki is anything but flag-waving exultation.  From Chizuru's death onwards, we still aren't spared the horrors that have befallen those on both sides of the human/vampire divide - on the one hand we have Tohru's tears and Sunako's abject loneliness, and on the other we have those who have lost loved ones and the broken psyche of Kaori.  This is, of course, entirely the point - there are no winners here and this isn't the "good versus evil" of a Hollywood movie; instead, every action simply brings more pain, yet at the same time there seems to be no other way of breaking the cycle of death and ruin which surrounds this series.  Right now we should arguably be cheering on Ozaki and company, but can we honestly do that in the face of so much heartache and suffering?  Of course we can't, and this is where Shiki plays upon our humanity and emotional turmoil exquisitely... and to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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